Puberty after prenatal growth restraint

Horm Res. 2006;65 Suppl 3:112-5. doi: 10.1159/000091515. Epub 2006 Apr 10.


There is increasing evidence for a link between prenatal growth and pubertal development. Here we highlight a selection of pubertal characteristics in children who were born small for gestational age (SGA). Boys born SGA are at risk of high levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and low levels of inhibin B and a small testicular volume during adolescence. In girls born SGA, the age at pubertal onset and the age at menarche are advanced by about 5-10 months; prenatal growth restraint may also be associated with higher FSH levels and smaller internal genitalia in adolescence. The ovulation rate was found to be reduced in adolescent girls born SGA, and an insulin-sensitizing therapy was capable of raising this low ovulation rate. Menarche is definitely advanced in girls born SGA with precocious pubarche and in those with an early-normal onset of puberty. Current evidence suggests that insulin resistance is a key mechanism linking a post-SGA state to early menarche; hence, insulin sensitization may become a valid approach to prevent early menarche and early growth arrest in girls born SGA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Height
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / physiology*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Puberty, Precocious